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The Gift of the Present

No Blind Community Martial Arts classes this morning, so Andrea and I had probably one of our last slow mornings for quite a while. Over breakfast, Andrea looked at her Instagram, and she noticed that the Saturday open mat at Studio 540 was now from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. She noticed at 11:00 AM, and we live in La Mesa. 540 is in Solana Beach. We hustled and, thankful for light traffic on the weekends in the late morning, we headed out to get in some jiu jitsu. (“Honey, could you stop by the gym, I think you’re running low on jiu jitsu.”) We made it for the last hour. Some good rolls, and I got to work with my good friend who introduced me to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 7 years ago. (He prefers to keep a very low profile, so I won’t mention him by name.)

Before I moved to San Diego 17 years ago today (Yes, today is the 17 year anniversary)I had only dabbled in martial arts. Kung fu for a year or so in high school, Bujinken Ninjutsu for 6 months when I was in my 20s. Beyond that, not much real training. I wouldn’t go on to study martial arts with any real consistency until August of 2005, when I began learning from Soke-Shihan Scot Conway. (At the time, his full martial arts title was Soke-Kiyoshi). Now, Andrea and I teach Guardian Kempo and its related arts in a dojo we inherited from our friend and instructor. This will be the first full calendar year we’ll be responsible for our own school.

The move to San Diego 17 years ago was scary. The process of earning a black belt under Grandmaster Scot was challenging and had some moments which inspired fear in me. Beginning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu had its own set of fear inducing moments. Running our own dojo is its own kind of scary. The key thing to remember is this. It’s ok to be scared. Let the fear work for you. Don’t be a slave to it. Don’t brace against change, make friends with it. When you can do this, you can accept the gift of the present moment. The time is now.

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2020 – The Year Everything Changes

2019 was a mix for me. I earned 2 3rd degree black belts. I made the USA Surfing National Adaptive Surf Team a second year in a row. I got to train with a lot of amazing people. I got to surf at the Surfight Classic, my first surf contest that was not an adaptive contest. I was a guest on a YouTube series hosted by a man and martial artist I respect. I also came very close to losing a friend. I retired the guide dog I’ve been with the longest. I lost my US Open Adaptive Surfing title. I deeply struggled with mental health challenges because I had not given myself permission to grieve over important events throughout the course of my life. (Made some progress there, btw.)

There was more treasure. I got to surf Malibu for the first time. I was on TV more than once. I got much more experience as a stand-up comedian. Andrea and I opened our dojo. Our school is small, but we teach good martial arts. I can be happy about a lot of 2019, even if I would have done some key parts very differently.

Looking to the future… I contemplate all the pieces moving. I can talk about some of them. I must remain silent on others. (Does everybody make you sign an NDA these days?) If even one of these pieces moves forward to a significant degree, mine and Andrea’s lives will change forever. The question I’m asking myself is this. Who do I need to be to savor the treasure and make use of the opportunities in front of me?

My heart and my mind need to be right. I must not cling to things, ideas, or relationships just because they are comfortable or familiar. I also can’t casually throw away what is meaningful, helpful, or good. I am in the midst of an internal metamorphosis. I let 2019 and lingering disease from my past keep me from being my full self. My single goal for 2020 is to be my truest and best self. What ever this ultimately looks like, I am ready for it to breathe life into my roles as husband, man, martial artist, sensei, surfer, surfing champion, son, cousin, teacher, artist, and all the other facets of who I am and becoming.

I will no longer apologize for being me. I will, however, strive to be quick to apologize when I’ve done wrong. Being my truest best self does not give me license to be mean, unkind, or selfish. Being my truest best self means I need to grow in body, soul, and spirit. Being kind includes being kind to me. This might mean I’ll need to rest once in a while, but doing so will be a choice, not laziness.

I still intend to teach and serve without payment. That said, I will no longer turn away help from those who wish to better equip me to improve the world. (I’ll also not turn away a paying student if I think I can help them.)

Some of what is unfolding is unknown to me. Some of what is changing are things that I need or choose to keep private. I have begun or continued some daily habits. I may share some of these as we go, but, as we’re only 2 days into 2020, I’ll wait to make those habits more permanent before I share what they are.

Thanks for reading this somewhat rambling and occasionally cryptic post. If you’d like to help me, even with a word of encouragement, please feel free to get in touch with me. I might not get to you right away, but I’ll do my best to respond.